St. Isaac's Cathedral

#3 in Best Things To Do in St. Petersburg
St. Isaac's Cathedral picture
Koto Apparat/Getty Images

Key Info

Isaakiyevskaya Ploshchad

Details

Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
4.6scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 0.0Food Scene
  • 4.5Atmosphere

The construction of St. Isaac's Cathedral was ordered by Alexander I in the early 1800s. This neoclassical marvel was finally completed in 1858 after 40 years of construction. St. Isaac's has an interesting history: it survived Nazi shelling in World War II and even briefly served as a museum of atheism under the Soviet regime.

St. Isaac's Cathedral possesses an imposing exterior presence with its single massive dome, but you'll also want to check out its opulent interior, with its multicolored marble floors and stunning frescoes, which never fail to impress visitors.

The cathedral is located in the Admiralteysky district of the city and is accessible from the Sennaya Ploshchad and Nevsky Prospekt metro stations. Admission will set you back around 350 rubles (or approximately $5). If you want to go up the colonnade for excellent views of St. Petersburg (a must, according to recent visitors), be prepared to climb 262 steps and pay an extra 200 rubles (or roughly $3). You can visit every day except Wednesday, when it's closed, from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. From the end of April to the end of September, the cathedral also offers evening hours, welcoming visitors from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased through the cathedral's website.

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Type
Time to Spend
#1 Hermitage Museum and the Winter Palace

Catherine the Great founded the Hermitage Museum in 1764 as a place to house her private art collection. The main museum complex comprises six buildings, including the Winter Palace, which was the home of the czars for almost 200 years. It finally opened to the public in 1852, and since then has been one of the largest and most interesting museums in the world. It draws more than 4 million visitors each year – in fact, this museum is the main reason some travelers visit St. Petersburg in the first place. Recent travelers offered fulsome praise for both the art on display and the opulent building housing the works. For many, the only downside was the constant crowds.

Bursting at the seams with art from masters like Leonardo da Vinci and Pablo Picasso, the Hermitage demands a substantial commitment of time to see even a portion of its collection, which encompasses 3 million works of art and artifacts. Some previous visitors reported spending seven hours touring the grounds. If you plan to spend a considerable amount of time admiring the works, consider purchasing the two-day entrance ticket.

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